February 26, 2024

The Latest

Dov Ben-Shimon Federation CEO

We’re hosting the delegation of Israelis from our partnership communities last week and this week. They are an inspiring, wonderful group of amazing individuals, sharing their personal and communal stories of survival, loss, and heroism. They have some fifty (!) visits and briefings while they’re here, so I hope you get the chance to meet them. It’s really important to hear their stories and to bear witness.

I’ve been busy on social media, writing about what’s happening in Rutgers, ludicrous NPR reports, and the number of Palestinian dead in the conflict. But today I’m spending the day in the office, checking in on our professionals, and participating in live zoom meetings with colleagues in our partner, The Jewish Agency for Israel, talking about rehabilitation and rebuilding programs in the Western Negev region (what we used to call “the Gaza Envelope” area, of communities in Israel around the Gaza Strip). They’re working hard on planning out a five year plan for strengthening and rehabilitating the fabric of life, while (re)building resilience and driving construction and investment. More on this, I’m sure, to come.

Anyway. Here we are. During an evacuation of civilians from Khan Yunis in Gaza, the IDF found terrorists who were concealed along with civilians and attempting to escape with them. The terrorists were apprehended by the Seventh Armored Brigade, which also killed several other militants and discovered a cache of weapons, including rifles, machine guns, and grenades. The IDF also found a terrorist cell that had been using drones to attack Israelis; the Israeli Air Force (IAF) neutralized the cell. The IAF attacked Hamas’s aerial unit, including striking rocket launch posts that were pointed toward Israel.

Meanwhile, the IDF announced that it has concluded a weeklong raid on Nasser Hospital in Khan Younis, where both militants and weapons had been found; about 200 terror suspects, including some who allegedly participated in the October 7 massacre, have been arrested there. There is also evidence that Israeli hostages were held captive for a period at the same hospital, including boxes of sealed medicine labeled with the names of hostages.

Two IDF soldiers, Staff Sgt. Ido Eli Zrihen, 20, and Staff Sgt. Nerya Belete, 21, died while fighting with the Givati Reconnaissance Unit in southern Gaza. An officer and two soldiers in the Givati Brigade were also seriously wounded. Click here for the latest information, in Hebrew, on fallen soldiers.

Violence has erupted once again in the Zeitoun neighborhood of Gaza City, where IDF soldiers have now been redeployed. Major Eyal Shuminov, 24, of the Givati Brigade was killed by an anti-tank missile on Saturday in the neighborhood. The district is being eyed as a potential site for a “humanitarian pocket,” where some semblance of ordinary Gazan life would be able to resume once Hamas is defeated; under the plan, local merchants and civic leaders would be empowered to distribute humanitarian aid.


Multiple Hezbollah rockets were intercepted by the Iron Dome on Saturday over Kiryat Shmona. Watch the interceptions here. Also, Israel’s long-range Arrow air defense system shot down a missile over the Red Sea that was headed for Israel. Watch the video here. The number of Hamas rocket attacks on Israel remains very low, due to Hamas’s capabilities being significantly degraded by the IDF. In joint airstrikes, the US and UK struck at least 18 Houthi rebel targets in Yemen; they included an underground storage facility, weapons, and a helicopter. Iran-backed Houthi rebels in the country are attempting to ban ships owned by Israeli, American, or British companies—or sailing under their flags—from the Red Sea, Gulf of Aden, and Arabian Sea. After the ban was announced, a Houthi missile struck a British-owned cargo ship in the Gulf of Aden, setting it on fire.


The IDF confirmed that Sgt. Oz Daniel, 19, an Israeli soldier who was kidnapped along with the rest of his tank crew, on October 7, has died in captivity.  Last week’s talks in Paris on a new hostage deal appear to have made progress; the Israeli, American, Egyptian, and Qatari negotiators developed what an Israeli official called “a solid basis for discussions.” Another Israeli official reported that Hamas has “dropped some of its demands.” Channel 12 in Israel carried the statement that if Hamas goes along with the agreement, then there is “a high chance that, before March 11 [when Ramadan begins], we will see hostages freed for the first time since [the first truce collapsed at the end of] November.” There are an estimated 134 hostages still imprisoned by Hamas, but only about 100 thought to still be alive.

Israel’s War Cabinet has approved a new round of talks this week, to be coordinated by Qatar. They will take place in Egypt. Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu told CBS’s “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning that an invasion of Rafah, the southernmost city (on the border with Egypt) where more than a million Palestinians are now sheltering, would mark the last phase of the war. He said that a hostage deal could delay this offensive, but the invasion will take place no matter what. The prime minister released his plan for postwar Gaza, which includes continuing control of not only Gaza by the IDF, but also the borders between both Gaza and Israel and Gaza and Egypt. The plan has been rejected by Palestinian leadership; it also does not follow American prescriptions for the future of the enclave. He also said that 99 Members of Knesset are opposed to the creation of a Palestinian state, despite the insistence of the US and other countries that the war must give way to plans for such an entity. A majority of Israelis, recent surveys have shown, also disagree with the idea.


An officer is the US Air Force died today after setting himself on fire outside the Israeli Embassy in Washington. The self-immolation was a protest against what he called, before lighting the match, Israeli “genocide” in Gaza.

Secretary of State Tony Blinken is expressing disappointment with the prime minister’s plan to build 3,000 new homes in the West Bank. He said that “new settlements are counterproductive to reaching an enduring peace.” In a reversal of the Trump Administration’s view of the West Bank settlements, Blinken called them “inconsistent with international law.”

Israeli Heritage Minister Amichai Eliyahu, from the far-right Otzma Yehudit Party, claimed that US President Joe Biden “is leading us to a disaster” in that a Palestinian state adjacent to Israel would “lead to a Holocaust.”

Interesting stuff

Watch 12 Hours, a six-and-a-half minute English-language mini-documentary by Eli Katzoff about Einav Zangauker, who, along with her family, is protesting to secure the release of her son, Matan. In the film, the family pitches a tent on the highway and blocks traffic to make their demands.

With criminal gangs seizing much of the humanitarian aid, US officials see Gaza “turning into Mogadishu.”

US military experts are pessimistic that Hamas can be dismantled by Israel in the foreseeable future.

Ksenia Svetlova on the danger of failed states surrounding Israel.

Jewish Federations’ Israel Emergency Campaign has now raised a total of more than $780 million and allocated close to $350 million. For details, click here. If you’ve donated to the emergency fund for Israel, please know how grateful we are, and check out the massive impact you’ve had. Right now the emphasis is on rebuilding the United Jewish Appeal, so that we’re ready for the next crisis, standing up to Jew-hate on campus and in our communities, and building a sense of Jewish pride and community here and around the world.